Ghostrunner: Project_Hel DLC- Review
Follow Genre: Action, Platformer
Developer: One More Level, 3D Realms, Slipgate Ironworks™, All in! Games
Publisher: 505 Games
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5
Tested on: PC

Ghostrunner: Project_Hel DLC- Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Good sound, graphics and gameplay
Bad: Very short
User Score
7.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Back in 2020, the action platformer Ghostrunner was released to a warm welcome. The game soon developed an active speedrun community which has remained active throughout the years. Now, slightly under two years later, a prequel DLC has been released. Here’s all Project_Hel has to offer.

Story

The DLC’s story sees players in the shoes of Hel, one of the bosses in Ghostrunner’s main story, as she puts an end to an insurrection within Dharma Tower. Despite not being particularly plot heavy, Project_Hel manages to create an entertaining narrative which contextualizes some of the events in the base game, although whether it serves as a standalone story is arguable. Most of the events and characters featured in it will be irrelevant to a newcomer, whilst those with previous experience will recognize them.

Graphics

Similarly the base game, Project_Hel’s features really high quality cyberpunk environments and designs. However, due to the expansion’s shorter length, players will spend a large part of their time within similar areas fighting only a handful of different enemies. While the DLC features some new foes, the only truly distinct ones are the two bosses, with the others being merely more than generic goons to slice through.

Sound

Just like its graphics, the DLC’s sound design is also stellar, featuring a varied techno soundtrack, good sound effects and great voice acting. The only possible issue to be found is the constant repetition of enemy quips, which may become especially grating during bossfights due to the small pool of available phrases.

Gameplay

Project_Hel’s gameplay is a variation on the base game’s formula. While players will still have to go through platforming and combat challenges, Hel’s move-set somewhat differs from Jack’s. The main difference comes in her slower movement and more powerful jumps, accompanied by a targeted mid-air dash where players will enter bullet-time while selecting a landing spot. This bullet-time also provides players with the ability to strafe to the sides in order to dodge incoming attacks, turning into an immediate dash while on the ground.

Accompanying these abilities, Project_Hel also introduces the rage meter and the skills which rely on it. The most important of these is the “Surge” attack, which sees Hel firing a horizontal energy slash capable of activating switches and killing any enemies it touches. However, in order to fire it, a certain amount of rage will need to be built up by killing enemies or touching generators, consuming it after the shot. Additionally, should players fill their meter, a temporary shield will appear, protecting them from a single hit before depleting all rage.

Once the player has progressed further into the DLC, Hel will also be able to improve her abilities in a similar fashion to Jack, by placing Tetris-like pieces within a grid. These modules will grant powerful bonuses, such as easier rage buildup, larger Surge slashes, etc. Should players manage to make the most out of their grid by leaving certain spots empty, the game will also reward them with three additional effects, further enhancing their skills.

Throughout the DLC, the gameplay doesn’t evolve much past the earlier part, only providing Hel with more grid slots. Instead, the challenge ramps up by presenting harder combat scenarios, with better-positioned enemies, and covered flanks. While a longer game would likely suffer from this lack of evolution, Project_Hel ’s length allows for it, ending before overstaying its welcome.

Peppered throughout the levels, a handful of simpler puzzles can also be found, requiring players to position elevators correctly in order to form traversable corridors. However, these puzzles present no challenge due to the lack of enemies in their corresponding areas, mostly serving as a brief respite from the action.

Other than the platforming and combat challenges, Project_Hel also rewards players for exploring all the areas within its levels. Each of the levels, excluding boss ones, include a set amount of collectibles to find, including audiologs, trinkets and cosmetics. While finding these doesn’t present an excessive challenge, the game also provides players with the possibility of equipping a module which will show the positions of all the items in the level.

Conclusion

Project_Hel is a worthy companion piece to the base game which adds more content for those who have already played Ghostrunner. While the DLC can still be enjoyed as a standalone experience, it is arguably better to go through the base game first in order to get the most out of it. Offering between two and three hours of content and sold for $/€14,99/£12.49, it is perhaps recommendable for those on the fence to wait for a sale.

Personal Opinion

“As someone who very much enjoys Ghostrunner and similar games such as Katana Zero, Project_Hel was a welcome experience. Altering the formula of the base game enough to be unique but not enough to be something completely different, playing the DLC was rather entertaining. While it took some getting used to due to the floatiness of the character and certain quirks, once everything clicked it was every bit as enjoyable as the main story. The only thing I didn’t particularly enjoy were the boss fights, which, like the original ones, take place in closed off arenas. It is a shame that the developer didn’t take the opportunity to find a better approach to these moments, which take the puzzle part out of “combat puzzle” and replace it with simple bullet hell mechanics. Still, I would recommend anyone who was already a fan of the game to give the DLC a shot.”

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Ghostrunner: Project_Hel DLC- Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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